Gas line could employ 12,000 at peak, 1,000 long-term

Published: Nov. 17, 2017 at 3:30 PM AKST
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The Alaska gas line project could bring up to 12,000 jobs to Alaska in the short-term during construction, according to Keith Meyer, president of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

That’s part of an aggressive plan to get construction on a trans-Alaska gas line underway by 2019, he said Friday at the AGDC office, after spending a month and a half in China facilitating the agreement.

The agreement with three Chinese entities – Sinopec, Bank of China, and China Investment Corp. –

, and signed in the presence of Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping.

Definitive agreements on the deal, Meyer said, are “about 1,000 pages away, and many legal dollars.” The goal is to have those finalized agreements in place by the end of 2018.

If all goes as planned, Meyer says construction on the project could start as soon as 2019. He says during a five-year construction window, the peak of employment on the job in Alaska would be 12,000 jobs. Once the gas line is in service, he says about 1,000 full-time workers would continue on. The operating budget would be $1 billion a year that would stay within Alaska, Meyer said.

When it comes to design of the project, Sinopec, one of the parties to the deal, may help with some of the design aspects – the company designs and builds pipelines in China. But Meyer says contractors who have done previous work on aspects of the project on AGDC’s side, like the LNG plant and the pipeline design, will also take part.

Some pre-fabricated construction on the project may take place in China, Meyer said. “A lot of the module fabrication, the big modules that get built, could get built in China – they would have been built overseas anyway, and then they’re floated here. So some of that work can be done over there, but for the most part, in terms of the construction activity, it’s really a U.S. activity,” he said.

Meyer also said the corporation has designed 500 million cubic feet per day of the gas line’s capacity to serve Alaska’s needs, saying that’s twice what the state currently uses. It includes a takeoff point for Fairbanks, and there’s potential for expansion into rural Alaska, Meyer said.

“We’re looking at moving LNG small-scale into some of the remote communities,” Meyer said, noting that China moves a lot of natural gas by truck to remote locations. He said Alaska’s resource development industry is a targeted in-state customer. “Mines are a big source of power demand, and therefore a big source of fuel demand. What we can provide the mining activities is a long-term stable fuel price that helps them get developed, so we see a lot of synergies between the gas line and the other industries within the state.”